Reading the Daily Telegraph and/or The Spectator, both (reputedly) right wing organs one could be forgiven for thinking nothing much has happened during the period leading up to the Presidential election next November – except for a weekly sneer about Donald Trump. You just wouldn’t realise that for half a year several people have been jockeying for the Republican Party nomination.
Of course within a few days, starting with the Iowa caucus, there will have to be some column inches but the hacks will be operating in the dark without a compass. They have no bearings.
They have no bearings because, of course, reporting US politics is almost always a cut and paste job for the Brit hacks. They check the US media, find out what the pundits and the consultants and the academics are saying – then they alter one or two words and phrases and regurgitate the message to UK eyes.
Only the 2016 race is not going to plan.
It was all going to be so simple. Back in the early summer the Republican Party establishment had it all sussed out. The summer and early autumn would thin the ranks. “Outsiders” like Trump and Carson would flare brightly for a few weeks and then flame out. The young bloods like Rand, Walker, Rubio and Cruz would tear each other apart for the “conservative” vote and then former governor of Florida Jeb Bush, rich with big donor cash and the support of regiments of consultants led by so called “genius” Karl Rove, would come through the middle. By October the media and GOP establishment would be crowning him the unofficial nominee and all would be set for the dynastic clash of Bush v Clinton in November 2016.
Except it didn’t pan out that way at all. Despite all those consultants and over $100m in donations and the support of the official conservative media Jeb never lifted from the ground.
Instead Donald Trump has stolen all the oxygen. Despite weekly predictions of demise from the punditocracy Trump polling lead has been consistent. Attacks from the left and right media have regularly missed the target. Not a single big name media figure has come out in support – and it seems that a lot of ordinary Americans don’t give a damn.
This is why in the Telegraph/Spectator the cover has faded. They can no longer cut and paste what the pundits/consultants/academics are saying because there is very little to cut and paste. Since early December the “experts” have clammed up, scared witless by public mockery of their failed predictions. There is a subdued sneering at Trump but that is all.
What has never appeared in the Telegraph/Spectator is a serious analysis attempting to explain the phenomenon of Trump. It is sometimes put down to anger and frustration amongst older white males but if you look at the thousands who attend the Trump rallies there are a lot of younger folk as well – and women.
There is some evidence of support from previously Democrat leaning blue collar workers and elements of the black community, constituencies in which none of the other GOP hopefuls could hope to gain any traction.
Of course nothing is certain and casting political runes is ever an unpredictable game. But even if Trump was to eventually fade post February US politics can never be the same. As someone has said he has not only ignored the rule book – he’s ripped it up and written another,
But of course, nobody in the Telegraph/Spectator said that. They feel much more comfortable and cosy with their heads stuck up their own derrieres….